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Our guest article today is from, Kimberly Mueller, MS, RD, CSSD, the founder and owner of Fuel Factor Nutrition, is a Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, and competitive athlete who provides custom meal planning, nutrition coaching, and event-nutrition guidance to athletes worldwide. More information on Fuel Factor services can be found at www.Fuel-Factor.com. Kim can be reached at kim@Fuel-Factor.com .
Whether you are professional cyclist pushing some serious wattage to win a race or a cycle-newbie excited to explore the countryside, implementation of a sound nutrition plan will be a huge determining factor in how your body will respond to the century challenge. Fueling peak cycling performance involves a trio of steps including: 1) tapered training and carbohydrate loading the 2 weeks leading up to the ride, 2) eating a meal the morning of the ride, and 3) consuming foods and fluids during the ride itself. Here’s a nutritional countdown to help your century preparation:
Two weeks and counting….
Many athletes actually dread the taper leading up to a big event, such as a century ride, but from a nutritional standpoint, when you complete your peak training volume about 2 weeks out from race day, muscle glycogen (carbohydrate) stores are about 30% lower than capacity, not an ideal place to be at for peak performance. Therefore, a two-week taper is appropriate before a century ride as means to allow your muscles to nutritionally reload.
In the first week of your taper, training volume should be reduced by 40% with the cutback being reflected on all your normal weekly rides. On race week, not only will training volume be reduced by another 40% but carbohydrate concentration in your diet should increase approximately 25% representing about 80% of your total caloric intake. However, while increases in carbohydrate are necessary, this is not an invite to blindly pile on the pasta till your pant button explodes. Calorie intake needs to match output so if you find yourself gaining more than 2% of your pre-load weight, you are consuming too much. Most athletes require ~15 calories per pound of body mass to support basic metabolic needs and tapered daily activities.
One day and counting…
While you may be eager to explore the pre-race scene, it is important that you maintain a ‘taper focus’, keeping your activity and time on foot to a minimal the day prior to a century. Make sure to stay hydrated, sipping on fluids until your urine maintains a pale yellow appearance. Continue your carbohydrate-focus but keep your diet low residue, meaning fiber content should be reduced a bit in favor of ‘easier-to-digest’ options (e.g., banana instead of an apple; white pasta over whole wheat pasta). In addition, fat and protein at your evening meal should be kept minimal as these nutrients take longer to clear the gut and can cause nausea on race morning, especially if the meal is eaten after 6pm. Make sure to stick with familiar foods, saving the more exotic local cuisine for post-ride.
While a training taper and coordinated increase in carbohydrate intake is proven to prime your muscles for peak cycling performance, a carbohydrate-focused meal on ride morning will help restock your depleted liver glycogen stores, ultimately giving you that mental boost to perform at peak during the initial stages of the century ride. Our liver has the capacity to store approximately 100 grams (400 calories) of carbohydrate making this the target for consumption in the 2 hours leading up to race start. Much like your carbo-loading regimen, limit dietary fiber intake and instead use up to 25 grams of protein (e.g., egg, yogurt, soy milk) to help stabilize energy levels. Small amounts of fat (up to 20 grams), like that found in a couple tablespoons of peanut butter, can provide additional satiation value. Finally, aim at drinking ½-1 liter of fluid or enough that your urine runs pale yellow in the hours leading up to event start. For those vulnerable to cramping or premature muscle fatigue, consuming up to a gram of salt as part of your pre-ride fuel, whether found naturally in your food or added like that in a sports drink, has been shown to help mute the onset by a good 20% during endurance events such as a century ride.
Meals on Wheels
All the nutritional work during your taper and carbo-loading regimen and pre-ride meal is not enough to carry you through a century ride making ‘meals on wheels’ essential for protection against the mental ‘bonk’ and muscle wrenching ‘wall’. Because both pedaling and digestion of food require oxygen nourishment, it is impossible to replace 100% of cycling output, which falls at 500-1000 calories/hour for most endurance cyclists, but, while a 30-40% replacement rate is optimal for most, the goal is to test that limit as means to mute the fatigue seen with depleted glycogen stores.
Note that with increases wattage, effort, and/or heart rate, there will be increases in calorie output yet the ability to absorb nutrients will decrease making the onset of muscle fatigue more probable. Therefore, cyclists who are racing a century should focus primarily on easier-to-absorb liquid carbohydrates (e.g, sport drink, gels with water), utilizing multiple carbohydrate sources (e.g., maltodextrin + 1-2 simple sugars) to help improve rate of uptake and accommodate their higher calorie outputs. All cyclists should avoid piling on the calories at sag stations as this will only divert blood/oxygen/water to the belly increasing the likelihood of cramping and/or nausea post-feeding. Ultimately, experimentation with different products during training is key to help create a plan that will work best for you on event day.
Want help creating an ultimate cycling nutrition plan? Kimberly Mueller, MS, RD, CSSD founder and owner of Fuel Factor Nutrition, is a Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, and competitive athlete who provides custom meal planning, nutrition coaching, and event-nutrition guidance to athletes worldwide. More information on Fuel Factor services can be found at www.Fuel-Factor.com. Kim can be reached at kim@Fuel-Factor.com .
When I am riding locally in Charlotte NC I have roughly 4 trails I visit, either due to distance from my house, work or time restraints. One of my favorite trails,that is also one of the closer ones to my house, recently had a trail addition that opened earlier this fall.
Lake Norman State Park which is about 25 minutes north of center city Charlotte is a great trail for all levels. 20 or so miles can now be found wrapping around the lake. Well maintained with a decent amount of length it will give you a reason to make the drive. The words I would use to describe the whole circuit of trails is flowing, moderate, and scenic. The Tarheel Trailblazers have done a great job building and keeping up with the trails, the State Park Rangers keep an eye on the trail, encourage use but also make sure it isn’t abused when the weather is foul.
The recently finished addition, the Laurel loop added 8 miles to the other two loops that have been staples at Lake Norman. The loop is a bit more technical, adding fun switchbacks, little kicker climbs, man built log rollers and will give you a work out no matter your experience. Those in shape will hit the trail harder, those looking to step up their game the trail is completely rideable, you may need to walk a couple hills but there is not shame in it!
The trail reminds me of a tamed Warrior Creek in Wilkesboro. Not as much elevation change, not as many berms, but fun. 20 miles of mountain biking, with 10 more planned will make this a destination spot. I’m lucky to live relatively close to the trail (10 minute drive)!
This past Sunday I dragged myself out of bed at o’dark 30 to prep myself and brain for my first cyclocross “clinic”. At around 7 o’clock teammate and all around awesome guy, George Berger, picked me up in his little Prius and we were off into the sunrise. The goal was to get to mountains of Boone North Carolina and the Pirate Race Products Cyclocross Clinics.
Walking into a cyclocross clinic I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have participated in cyclocross practices, and various other road/mtb clinics before but never dedicated for cyclocross.
Here are the things I did know:
The clinic was segregated for women and men. There ended up being roughly 12 women that showed up which seemed to be a decent group for learning and trying new things with two instructors.
It would be a long day. The clinic was scheduled from 10 to 4, and I knew from cyclocross practices that I would be completely worn out doing these quick burst of anaerobic effort.
There would be good food. Burrito’s from Black Cat in Boone, if you haven’t been there – go visit soon.
I had no goals. There were things I want to improve on in cyclocross this year, but a specific skill other than not hurting myself, I didn’t have one dead set in mind. Oh wait, that is a lie.I want to be able to do the “flying squirrel” remount by the end of the season. You know that one were you “hop” off the ground and gracefully slide over your saddle like a cowboy on a bareback horse? Yes that is what I want to be able to do.
Drills and practice makes perfect
For 6 hours I was taken back to high school. All the drills and random technique forming (brain numbing) things you would do, and hate, wanting to just PLAY the game you were practicing for. You didn’t want to practice sprints, side to side, crazy legs, etc.
Quickly these feelings went away and I was left really enjoying myself and fellow company. I hope to have video’s of all the things below later this week. Video editing is just not in the time early this week.
Crazy 8′s - You basically take two objects, maybe 20-50 feet apart, with a partner you circle the objects/cones/trees/phone poles in a crazy 8 fashion. Learning how to take the corners properly at speed, while at the same time making sure your partner doesn’t catch or pass you (especially in the corners.)
Hill Climbs – This is the one I avoid, I did it twice and stopped. Find a hill and run up it with your bike. At the top either walk down or hop on your bike to ride back down. We started off slowly, simply picking up our bike and walking up the hill to learn where to place the bike on our shoulders and how to use our free arm to propel ourselves up. After a few times in slow, we then would ride into the hill, dismount and “scurry” up the hill.
Dismounts – A great thing for someone getting used to hopping off the CX bikes, especially with clipless pedals. With some momentum unclip your right foot and swing it over the saddle to be behind your left foot. Simply glide in that position. Once you feel comfortable doing this, repeat but this time swing your right leg back over to and clip back in. Next step is to complete the dismount. There were two schools of thought for this, sliding your right leg between your left leg and bike, or swinging your right leg behind your left and allowing the momentum to unclick you. I don’t feel comfortable the first way, and I’m much faster with the second.
Mounting – At a walking pace work on hip rotation and in motion of your walking stride take your right leg and slide it over the saddle so you “catch” yourself on your inner thigh right below your groin. Work on getting faster and “pushing off” your left leg so you get more speed into the sliding onto the saddle. (This is the one I need to work more on.)
Starts- Try out different gearing for your start, where should you be on your seat, do you do better with your hands on the shifters or in the drops, learn your limits so that you can push them but also land in the top positions in the start of the race. It is always better to allow people to pass you than to pick off people through out the race.
Other things gained at the NC CX clinic
The drills were awesome. Having 12 women to talk about womens CX and learn their ways of doing things, was awesome. Having “hot laps” at the end, was awesome. More than anything I believe the best part was meeting 12 semi-local women that will be on the courses beside me. Having people to talk with, making new friends and hopefully helping grow the sport.
Testing out George’s new Kuat rack was also very informative, if only they came out for a hitch for my new car!
I feel more motivated and able for the season. All I need to work on is my motor and I have over a month to work on that one. Here’s to NC Cyclocross! You can find all the photos over yonder.
What are your race day rituals? I find that rituals are so different between the niches of cycling. You can easily identify someones personality by how they prepare for a race. Is your gear in a box all organized? Are your bottles prepared the night before and put in the fridge with your gels already under the cap? Do you warm up on a trainer, or in your jeans on the road?
Mud and Cowbells put together a great Powerpoint deck of pre-race rituals for cyclocross. Click through but please share your setup and rituals in the comments below!
Pre-race Rituals for Cyclocross
Lately when I race and people ask how it was I simply can’t answer as I don’t feel like I am really racing. I feel like I’m riding around in circles, trying to find the next gear within my own. I’ve finished mostly last for the past year of my cycling life. I argue with myself that this place is better than not starting which I had been doing for the year prior. I struggle with the mental piece, knowing I am better than this, knowing that I am the puppet master and only allowing myself to fall.
Racing for the past year has been motivation. At the finish line when I knew I could have done better, that is motivation. I pay the race entry fee so that the other girl doesn’t come in last, and that I get a small kick in the ego…large enough to want more, but small enough not to do anything about it.
Doing Burn 24 Hour was this. There were moments on the trail I was questioning my sanity. Especially at 11:30pm when the roots were wet, my chamois was sweaty and my glasses were so fogged up from the humidity I was simply praying the whole 7 mile lap not to bust my face open.
I question why I slept for 5 hours. I question why I didn’t bring my full suspension bike with more “wet root friendly tires.” I question if I could have done 12 laps instead of 8. I question if my pit crew thought I was a pain in the ass and realize how much I appreciate them.
Looking back at this event I question myself, my strength and my will to do better in life.
Maybe that is the point of racing? To question yourself and everything that leads up to the moment. How else can you become better if you don’t question and change yourself?
My Best Advice for Women Cyclist
In no particular order these are things I have said over the years to friends, customers and myself. If you have more advice to add please join the conversation in the comments at the bottom of this page.
Research, learn and learn some more
You may find a great local shop, but unless there is an experience girl there, they won’t be able to tell you from their own experience. Boys are made differently, even their thinking is different, which makes for some things not to be comparable. (Saddles, shorts, clothing, etc.) Try to learn from as many people as possible, test ride, and ask a ton of questions. Don’t stop learning or asking!
fi:zik Vesta Saddle
Invest in a a good bike seat and bike fitting
You should not have any numbness or pain when you ride your bike normally. If you start training for Ride Across America or something like that, it may be different. A two hour ride should be fun and enjoyable, make it so.
Also, make sure your favorite bike shorts aren’t causing problems. With a seam or stitching in the wrong place, it can cause a ton of problems.
The wonderful woman behind Lovely Bicycles posted a great article that I could never do justice. Go read over there about bike saddles and the female anatomy.
Be careful shaving down there, especially the first few times before you ride
When you first start riding, purchase a new saddle or change your bike fit, it is very important to take note of these changes when you are shaving or trimming your crotch area. This goes for any area that is touching the bike saddle. In grown hairs, shaving burns and all those things can be heightened by cycling shorts and saddles rubbing up and down for many revolutions of your pedals.
Try some sort of butt and “cooter” lube
You may not realize you are chaffing or rubbing areas. Also, many have an anti-bacteria add in. My favorite is DZ Nuts “Bliss”.
Women’s Cycling Shorts, saddles and handle bar tape/grip wear out
The same as you look at your drive train and tires, keep a good look on these things before they cause you problems.
Photo Credit: Dirt Divas UK
Find other women to ride with
Even if it is once a month and you have to drive, do it. This spring I made a vow to do my best to ride with a local women’s ladies mountain bike group the Dirt Divas or atlas ride with some of them when time allows. The social aspect, the motivating factor, the “belonging” feeling and finally to motivate OTHERS, are all reasons to do it.
Women cyclist should ride with the boys
It will make you stronger and faster.
Become self reliant
Learn how to change your tire, clean your chain and the basic lingo so you can maintain your bike with your local bike shops help. You don’t need anyone else for those basic things, plus you’ll be safer when riding if you know these things.
“There’s a place in Hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.” – Madeleine Albright
Try to remember the first time you went bike riding with a group, tried clipless pedals or entered your first race. Make sure to smile at the start line and encourage. Competition is healthy but women will be the back bone of making this sport a success, I can promise you that one.
You are a woman, you are an athlete and you should be proud of all these things together.
It has been over a week since updating you about my 30 days of biking challenge, so here is a quick update.
Day 1 : A 19 mile road ride
Day 2: A daily commute of 5 miles to Davidson, NC – take the bus from there to Charlotte and then a mile commute. In the evening I reversed it
Day 3: I only did the end of day commute, riding the bus completely stinks and makes me feel that I’m in a 14 ton coffin. Avoided it for the past week.
Day 4: em:pwr cycling lunch time group ride and then the bus/commute home.
Day 5: A early morning mountain bike ride before work.
Day 6: Rode my mountain bike into the weekend by knocking out 12 miles after work on the singlespeed 29er. I also scurried home to build up the new Airborne Goblin 29er.
Day 7: A shake down mountain bike ride at Lake Norman State Park. Adjusting my cock pit, getting used to gears and suspension
Day 8: A 28 mile road ride on the 29er mtb for fit and adjustment reason
Day 9: 7 mile afterwork mountain bike ride
Day 10: Built up a friends new Airborne Goblin, tweaked his new Stevens cyclocross bike and test spun around.
Day 11: (Today) Changing out some bits on my Goblin and beating it up around the block.
Fear is an interesting animal. Some people lack the normal types of fears, they are the “fearless” and can be found back flipping bikes or driving fast in the rain. Fear to me is self preservation and common sense, tied with adventure. Which part is larger, which part is stronger and what direction will you be pulled?
First times for events in your life cause fear for most. First date, first kiss, first time you ride a mountain bike, and so on. Yearly, I have “first fears.” First ride in the dark, first group ride, first fall, first race, and so on. Some are thoughts, and not major fears but others cause me horrid nerves and anxiety.
Last night I went for my first group ride of the season, it was a great experience and reminded me why I love riding with others. BUT before the ride I was nervous and feeling sick. Was I fast enough for the group I picked? Would I crash and be that person that crashed in front of everyone? All of these thoughts were running through my head as I drove to the trail.
I tried to pre-ride to shake the nerves from my legs, but it didn’t work. I need to get in with the group and start riding! Thankfully this group is filled with many of my friends and past customers. They knew me, they joked with me, and my nerves were washed away within a quarter of a mile.
Get Out and Conquer Those Fears
Moral of my story is if you are scared, we all have been there. Look at me, I’ve been riding over 12 years with groups and my first of the season still makes me nervous! Ride with friends, and loved ones. Be strong and ride. If you are scared, go off the front or fall off the back. Ride with someone that knows your level and what you are capable. Follow them, ask them questions, and if you still are worried we are here for you. Let us know how we can help you!
Today was foretasted as a beautiful days, at its peak it was meant to hit 55º and be the gorgeous Carolina Blue skies that I love dearly! When I left my house this morning at 8am, it wasn’t close to 55º and I would bet it was closer to 20º in the shade.
Why am I telling you all this?
Never Under Dress on Your Bicycle
My upper body was warm, I decided to wear a long sleeve jersey and my team thermal wind-stop jacket. I didn’t wear long pants, nor warm gloves figuring that knee warmers and tall wool socks plus long fingered gloves would cut it.
It didn’t. 3/4 through the ride my right foot was numb and my legs had the burn of the cold. I didn’t complain, I did go slower but I didn’t complain to my riding partners.
As I entered the shower, I didn’t realize how cold I really was. I looked down at my bare naked legs and could see exactly the areas that my knee warmers or socks didn’t cover. There was a 3″ line between my socks and knee warmers and again around my hip area that looked like a sunburn, and god did it hurt when the warm water hit it. I quickly shout out for a camera from my girlfriend to take a picture of my legs. I didn’t need to hurry her as the lines are still there 6 hours later.
Windburned Cycling Legs
I’ve never done this one before, and I can promise you I never will again.
There are reasons that daytime running lights have become standard on many cars, they add safety. It would be obvious to cyclist to add this extra level of safety to their daily bike rides, even during the daylight.
A Customer’s Story
Two years ago a good customer of the bike shop I was managing was literally run over by a car. She was on a quiet road during the mid day, with 4 open lanes around her. The customer is now healthy and able to bike again, but it was a touch and go case. The owner of the bike shop kept the fork off her run over bike in reminder of the actions we take when riding our bike. The driver of the car had a pretty standard reply, “I didn’t even see the person!” The cyclist was in a very shady part of the road and even though it was sunny out, she was camouflaged by her surroundings.
“I didn’t even see the person!”
As a cyclist and a driver I know this can sometimes be the case. When lighting is bad, clothing is dark and the cyclist blends into the scenery. With so many other distractions for drivers to checking in on, phone, radio or the screaming baby in the back, I push everyone to give them better time to see you.
Brighter clothing and not riding in the gutter can help this. My big push to every person I’ve ever sold a bike to that is going to be ridden on the road is a light. Buying batteries once a month is much cheaper than your life, and with most lights viewable 2,000+ feet behind I’ll take it.
From Facebook and Twitter
Several people chimed in on our Facebook and Twitter accounts to answer the question about riding with their blinky light on during the day.
Tawny Yambrovich I see other cyclists do it in daylight and it is virtually invisible; therefore it is a waste of batteries, and a waste of resources (reducing your use of batteries means fewer in landfills or needing recycling).
Tawny, I agree with you that normally a light isn’t viewable but in that one low light situation I would rather be wasting a bit more than wasting my life.
Josh Lipton Something really bright like the Planet Bike SuperFlash on flash mode is bright enough to easily catch people’s eyes even in broad daylight. I figure the sooner other road users see you, the better.
Amen. Give motorist a heads up that you are riding, most people aren’t used to riding around cyclist and they need prepared.